Sunday, 20 April 2008


Like so many others, I have attributed the poem "Success" to Ralph Waldo Emerson. It would seem, from the many e-mails that I have received, that I am mistaken.

"Success" was written as the winning entry in a contest run by the Brown Book Magazine, Boston in 1904 and "Bessie" Stanley won a cash prize of $250. Her poem was included in Bartlett's Book of Quotations for decades until they removed it in the 1960s.

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

Elisabeth Anne “Bessie” Anderson Stanley (1904)

“I wish you success in your fight and struggle. I hope that you might achieve better success than I have done and that my words, advice and humour can provide you with some support and inspiration.”

“Like the "Starfish Thrower" and the ethos of the poem "Success"; if I have helped just one person then I have succeeded.”

“Good luck and ‘Don’t Quit’ - ever !”

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Good Advice

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

False allegations against teachers are commonplace and it can happen to you or maybe one of your colleagues. You need to protect yourself today to minimize your own risk and to appreciate the full magnitude of the consequential impact on you, your life and that of your family.
  • Be prepared - get a copy of your school’s disciplinary procedures.
    (Ref. ‘Be Prepared’)
  • Minimize risk - adopt the ‘two deep leadership rule’.
    (Ref. ‘It Can Happen To You’)

If you think that you are being bullied :
(Ref. ‘My Head’s A Bully’)
  • At any meetings, take a representative with you.
    (If you find yourself in a one-one meeting, then insist that the meeting be adjourned until you can be accompanied - it is your legal right.)
  • Keep a diarized account of any incidents and note any witnesses names.
  • File any documentation that might relate to an incident.
  • Do not make my mistake - If you recognize or think that you are being bullied, then address the problem. Speak with your union or seek independent legal advice.
If an allegation is made against you :
  • At any meetings, take a representative with you.
  • Until advised by either a union representative or solicitor, do not make a statement - say nothing.
  • Do not discuss the allegation with colleagues - they could betray you.
  • Contact your union as soon as possible.
  • Document everything that you can recollect about the events that relate to the period of the allegation.
    (Provide your representative with a signed and dated copy.)
  • Seek independent legal advice / opinion.
  • Write a daily diarized journal of events / feelings - it is more than a good therapy and can provide a useful record that might help your defence.
  • Your health and that of your family will be impacted. Eat well and look after yourself. Tell your GP, he will be able to help and provide advice.
  • Maintain a useful and productive routine.
  • Learn to relax – the process is slow. Months can elapse without any progress / developments.
  • Don’t quit – remember that you are defending your life and your fundamental rights.
Refer to the article in Horror Stories’ - ‘How you can protect yourself against such harmful claims’.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Certified Honest

I received my polygraph examination documentation in this morning’s post. I am now certified honest and truthful !

There is now a stronger hope for my appeal – maybe someone will now believe my account with more credulity than before ... at least it is new evidence that can be presented.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Nothing But The Truth

“I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

English / Welsh Oath

The face says it all - I passed !

As arranged, Don Cargill arrived at my home at 3 o’clock. We sat over a coffee whilst Don talked about his life, qualifications and the many cases that he had handled. He highlighted his recent work with Michael Shields and the support that he had received from Rt. Hon. Jack Straw M.P., Secretary of State for Justice.

After a while, he assembled the polygraph equipment and explained the purpose of each component – the pneumographs, skin galvanic sensors and the cardiosphygmograph. Later he showed me examples of polygraph results, including Michael Shields’ test graphs.

For the next hour or so, we discussed the allegations that had been made against me. A typical polygraph test comprises three questions that will be examined and a range of other unrelated control questions for reference purposes.

In the end, the three questions were :
  • “Did you smack the girl on the hand on 26 September 2007 ?”
  • “Have you ever purposely hurt any child whilst working at your school ?”
  • “Were you sitting on a child’s green chair when the alleged smack on the girl took place ?”
Don then wired me with all of the polygraph sensors. After some preliminary tests / questions and calibration, everything was ready for my examination to start.

I was so apprehensive and scared. I can not describe my sense of anxiety ... it is the same feeling that you might experience when passing through the ‘Green Channel’ at an airport customs when you have nothing to declare; but this was much more intense.

He asked me to try to relax and to look directly ahead through the window as he began his questions. He asked me a total of six questions and this sequence was repeated three times.

After what seemed an eternity, he looked over at me and told me that I had answered truthfully to all questions.

He then showed me the graphs of my tests and how he had interpreted the various traces.

By this time, I was just so elated to know that I had proved my innocence – I HAD PASSED !

Example LX4000 Polygraph Traces
by courtesy of Lafayette Instrument Company

LX4000 Polygraph Components
by courtesy of Lafayette Instrument Company

The modern polygraph uses specialist software, LXSoftware (LX4000) & PolyScore, on a conventional Windows™ PC or laptop computer. Relative physiological changes within the examinee’s body are monitored by the following polygraph attachments :
  • Respiratory Rate : Two rubber tubes filled with air, called pneumographs, are placed around the examinee’s chest and abdomen. When the chest or abdominal muscles expand, the air inside the tubes is displaced. The digital or computerized polygraph employs transducers to convert the energy of the displaced air into electronic signals.

  • Galvanic Skin Resistance : This is also called electro-dermal activity and is basically a measure of sweat on your fingertips. The fingertips are one of the most porous areas on the body and therefore are a good place to look for sweat. The theory is we sweat more when we are placed under stress. Fingerplates, called galvanometers, are attached to two of the examinee’s fingers. These plates measure the skin’s ability to conduct electricity. When the skin is hydrated (as with sweat), it conducts electricity much more easily that when it is dry.

  • Blood Pressure / Heart Rate : A blood pressure cuff, called a cardiosphygmograph, is placed around the examinee’s upper arm. Tubing runs from the cuff to the polygraph. Again, in digital or computerized polygraphs, these changes are converted into electrical signals by transducers.
There are other components that a polygraph examiner might use, including a specialist chair, video camera and a range of sensor pads to detect countermeasures that might otherwise compromise the polygraph test results.

The polygraph examination involves three phases : The pre-test phase, the data collection phase and the data analysis phase.

In the pre-test phase the polygraph examiner will complete the required paperwork and then familiarize the examinee with the testing procedure and the polygraph instrument. He will spend most of the pre-test phase discussing the issue for the polygraph test. Before the examinee is attached to the polygraph instrument the examiner will review each polygraph test question with him, word for word. There are no surprise or trick test questions.

During the data collection phase the examiner will administer the polygraph test and collect a number of polygraph charts depicting physiological changes occurring with the examinee’s body as the examiner reads each test question and the examinee answers “yes” or “no”.

During the data analysis phase, the examiner will carefully review and score each chart in order to render an opinion as to the truthfulness of the examinee’s answers. The opinion rendered will be one of the following : NO DECEPTION INDICATED meaning the examinee answered the relevant questions truthfully, DECEPTION INDICATED meaning the examinee did not tell the truth to the relevant test questions or sometimes the opinion is inconclusive when the examiner is unable to determine truth or deception from the examinee’s polygraph charts due to abnormal and / or inconsistent physiological reactions.

The main supplier of polygraph systems and accessories is an American company, Lafayette Instrument Company, based in Lafayette, Indiana. The company was established in 1947 by Max Wastl.

Lafayette Instrument Company :

Another polygraph systems supplier, again American, is :

Limestone Technologies :

During my examination, I was asked to deliberately lie by reading from a prewritten script. It got very confusing as I had not appreciated that the lie was implicit in the script and I kept adding mine.

I came across this transcription involving an American witness who also suffered similar confusion whilst attempting to swear an oath :
Clerk:Please repeat after me : “I swear by Almighty God ...”
Witness:I swear by Almighty God.
Clerk:That the evidence that I give ...
Witness:That’s right.
Clerk:Repeat it.
Witness:Repeat it.
Clerk:No ! Repeat what I said.
Witness:What you said when ?
Clerk:“That the evidence that I give ...”
Witness:That the evidence that I give.
Clerk:Shall be the truth and ...
Witness:It will, and nothing but the truth !
Clerk:Please, just repeat after me : “Shall be the truth and ...”
Witness:I’m not a scholar, you know !
Clerk:We can appreciate that. Just repeat after me : “Shall be the truth and ...”
Witness: Shall be the truth and.
Clerk:Say : “Nothing”.
Witness:Okay. (Witness remains silent)
Clerk:No ! Don’t say nothing. Say : “Nothing but the truth ...”
Clerk:Can’t you say : “Nothing but the truth ...” ?
Clerk:Well ? Do so.
Witness:You’re confusing me.
Clerk:Just say : “Nothing but the truth ...”. Yes ?
Witness:Okay. I understand.
Clerk:Then say it.
Witness:What ?
Clerk:“Nothing but the truth ...”
Witness:But I do ! That’s just it.
Clerk:You must say : “Nothing but the truth...”
Witness:I WILL say nothing but the truth !
Clerk:Please, just repeat these four words : “Nothing”, “But”, “The”, “Truth”.
Witness:What ? You mean, like, now ?
Clerk:Yes ! Now. Please. Just say those four words.
Witness:Nothing. But. The. Truth.
Clerk:Thank you.
Witness:I’m just not a scholar.

I felt elated at the end of the day. I had been so apprehensive about my test. It had been more stressful and demanding than I had expected and it had been worse than the police interview last October. I had passed and, for the first time in months, I had new hope and a sense of contentment.

I thought that you might like to share my rekindled sense of fun with another courtroom transcription :
Lawyer:Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse ?
Lawyer:Did you check for blood pressure ?
Lawyer:Did you check for breathing ?
Lawyer:So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy ?
Lawyer:How can you be so sure, Doctor ?
Witness:Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Lawyer:But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless ?
Witness:It is possible that he could have been alive and practising law somewhere.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Detecting Deception

NADAC is the largest privately owned polygraph company in the United Kingdom, with offices based in London and Manchester. In addition NADAC provides polygraph services throughout the UK and on an international basis.

The founding directors Cargill & Penner are the official polygraph lie detection experts for the Trisha Goddard show on Channel Five.

They specialize in providing highly confidential polygraph testing for the corporate sector, government and private individuals.

Their examiners use the latest state of the art computerized instruments and are fully conversant with the most up to date techniques.

NADAC’s managing director, Don Cargill, is the current chairman of the prestigious British and European Polygraph Association (BEPA) as well as being a member of the American Polygraph Association (APA).

Nadia Penner is also a board director of the BEPA and a member of the APA.

I had been struggling with the thought of my appeal. There was no new evidence that could be presented and the format for the appeal would be the same as that of the disciplinary hearing. There were two witnesses who were lying and their testimonies had remained solid. It was clear that I needed something ‘out-of-the-box’ otherwise the outcome was going to be another sham.

My partner had suggested taking a polygraph test but my solicitor was not supportive. I mulled the idea over and searched for information about ‘lie-detection’ ... there are only a few British agencies that provide this service.

I was cynical of the idea and its value until I called Don Cargill at NADAC this afternoon. He exuded confidence and enthusiasm for his specialist field, citing many recent examples of the scope his work. These included the high profile case of Michael Shields, the football supporter who is serving a 10 year sentence for the attempted murder of Bulgarian barman, Martin Georgiev in 2005.

Don explained that much of his work was now sanctioned by government and that the validity and acceptance of polygraph tests by the British justice systems was progressing.

I felt an immediate rapport with Don. He was understanding and empathetic of my plight, and he kindly offered to personally present his findings at my appeal. He agreed to see me at my home on Sunday afternoon. I came off the telephone with a new sense of hope and optimism that my appeal would have a new dimension and that I might just win my case !

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Pinocchio Effect

Scientists at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that when you lie, chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing tissue inside the nose to swell. They used special imaging cameras to monitor blood flow in the body to show that lying causes an increase in blood pressure. This technology indicated that the human nose actually expands with blood during lying and is known as ‘The Pinocchio Effect’. The effect can induce mild irritation and a liar may rub their nose to satisfy the physical itch.

In English medieval courts, truth was tested by ordeals of fire and water, on the basis a truthful person would be protected by God.

Someone suspected of lying would have to carry a red-hot iron bar for nine paces. Alternatively he could opt to walk across nine red-hot ploughshares.

Either way, if the suspect was burned then this was proof that he was lying and so could be promptly hung.

Other courts went in for trial by water. In the ultimate ‘no-win’ situation, the person accused of lying was bound and thrown into a pond. If the accused sank this showed he was innocent but he might well drown anyway. If he floated this was taken as proof that he was lying and he would be hanged.

(The above techniques would be applicable and beneficial to at least two witnesses in my case !)

By the 1600s the idea arose that the truth of any statement could be arrived at by the means of detailed questioning and the application of scientific and logical reasoning to what was being said.

Modern legal conventions of cross-examination and the presumption that somebody is telling the truth unless it can be proved otherwise ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ date from this time.

The philosopher Descartes wrote “The power of distinguishing the true from the false, which is properly speaking what is called good sense or reason, is by nature equal in all men”.

Trying to work out whether somebody was lying was a matter of questioning, debate and the clash between different points of view based on the gathering and analysis of evidence.

In 1730, British novelist Daniel Defoe wrote an essay entitled "An Effectual Scheme for the Immediate Preventing of Street Robberies and Suppressing all Other Disorders of the Night", wherein he recommended that taking the pulse of a suspicious fellow was a practical, effective and humane method for distinguishing truthfulness from lying. Defoe’s was an early and insightful suggestion to employ medical science in the fight against crime.

In 1878, science first came to the aid of the truth seeker through the research of Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso. Mosso used an instrument called a plethysmograph in his research on emotion and fear in subjects undergoing questioning and he studied the effects of these variables on their cardiovascular and respiratory activity. Mosso studied blood circulation and breathing patterns and how these changed under certain stimuli. The use of the plethysmograph revealed periodic undulations or waves in a subject’s blood pressure caused by the respiratory cycle in response to certain stimuli. He was the first scientist to report on experiments in which he observed that a person’s breathing pattern changed under certain stimuli, and that this change, in turn, caused variations in their blood pressure and pulse rate.

Although not for the purpose of detecting deception, Sir James Mackenzie, M.D., constructed the clinical polygraph in 1892, an instrument to be used for medical examinations with the capability to simultaneously record undulated line tracings of the vascular pulses (radial, venous and arterial), by way of a stylus onto a revolving drum of smoked paper.

Until the end of the 19th century, no measuring device for the detection of deception had ever been used. The first use of a scientific instrument designed to measure physiological responses for this purpose came in 1895 when Italian physician, psychiatrist and pioneer criminologist Cesare Lombroso modified an existing instrument called a hydrosphygmograph and used this modified device in his experiments to measure the physiological changes that occurred in a crime suspect’s blood pressure and pulse rate during a police interrogation.

Notably, Lombroso’s early device for measuring pulse rate and blood pressure is similar to the cardiosphygmograph component of the contemporary polygraph. Although Cesare Lombroso did not invent the hydrosphygmograph, he is accorded the distinction of being the first person to have used the instrument successfully as a means for determining truthfulness from deception in crime suspects. On several occasions, he used the hydrosphygmograph in actual cases to assist the police in the identification of criminals.

In 1906, Sir James Mackenzie refined his clinical polygraph of 1892 when he devised the clinical ink polygraph with the help of Lancashire watchmaker, Sebastian Shaw. This instrument used a clockwork mechanism for the paper-rolling and time-marker movements and it produced ink recordings of physiological functions that were easier to acquire and to interpret. Interestingly, it has been written that the modern polygraph is really a modification of Dr. Mackenzie’s clinical ink polygraph.

In 1914, Italian psychologist Vittorio Benussi discovered a method for calculating the quotient of the inhalation to exhalation time as a means of verifying the truth and detecting deception in a subject. Using a pneumograph, a device that recorded a subject’s breathing patterns, Benussi conducted experiments regarding the respiratory symptoms of lying. He concluded that lying caused an emotional change within a subject that resulted in detectable respiratory changes that were indicative of deception.

Dr. William Moulton Marston, an American attorney and psychologist, is credited with inventing an early form of the lie detector when, in 1915, he developed the discontinuous systolic blood pressure test which would later become one component of the modern polygraph. Dr. Marston’s technique used a standard blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope to take intermittent systolic blood pressure readings of a suspect during questioning for the purpose of detecting deception.

In 1921, John A. Larson, a Canadian psychologist employed by the Berkeley Police Department, in California, developed what many consider to be the original lie detector when he added the item of respiration rate to that of blood pressure. He named his instrument the polygraph, a word derived from the Greek language meaning many writings, since it could read several physiological responses at the same time and document these responses on a revolving drum of smoked paper. Using his polygraph, John A. Larson was the first person to continually and simultaneously measure changes in a subject’s pulse rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate during an interrogation. His polygraph was used extensively, and with much success, in criminal investigations.

In 1925, Leonarde Keeler, who had gained firsthand experience in polygraph interrogations as a result of working with John A. Larson at the Berkeley Police Department, worked to devise a polygraph that used inked pens for recording the relative changes in a subject’s blood pressure, pulse rate and respiratory patterns, thus eliminating the need for smoking the paper and then preserving it with shellac.

In 1926, the Keeler Polygraph came on the market as the new and improved lie detector, an enhanced version of John A. Larson’s polygraph. Later, in 1938, Keeler refined the polygraph when he added a further physiological measuring component. The psycho-galvanometer, a component that measured changes in a subject’s galvanic skin resistance during questioning. In 1939, he patented what is now the prototype of the modern polygraph.

In 1947, John E. Reid, a lawyer from Chicago, Illinois, developed the Control Question Technique (CQT), a polygraph technique that incorporated control questions (comparison) which were designed to be emotionally arousing for non-deceptive subjects and less emotionally arousing for deceptive subjects than the relevant questions previously used. The Control Question Technique (CQT) replaced the Relevant / Irrelevant Question Technique (RIT) which used relevant or irrelevant questions during a polygraph examination. The Reid Control Question Technique was a major breakthrough in polygraph methodology.

In 1960, Cleve Backster, building upon the Reid Control Question Technique, developed the Backster Zone Comparison Technique (ZCT), a polygraph technique which primarily involved an alteration of the Reid question sequencing. He also introduced a quantification system of chart analysis, making it more objective and scientific than before. This system for the numerical evaluation of the physiological data collected from the polygraph charts has been adopted as standard procedure in the polygraph field today.

During the 1980s, research was conducted on computerized polygraph at the University of Utah by Drs. John C. Kircher and David C. Raskin and, in 1988, they developed the Computer Assisted Polygraph System (CAPS), which incorporated the first algorithm to be used for evaluating physiological data collected for diagnostic purposes.

In 2003, PolyScore Polygraph Software was developed. PolyScore is a computerized polygraph chart scoring algorithm that uses statistical probability to arrive at truthfulness or deception. It has been shown that validated algorithms have exceeded 98 per cent in their accuracy to quantify, analyze and evaluate the physiological data collected from polygraph examinations administered in real criminal cases.

The review committee of The National Academy of Sciences have concluded that, although there may be alternative techniques to polygraph testing, none can outperform the polygraph, nor do any of these yet show promise of supplanting the polygraph in the near future.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Downing Street

“We can find common qualities and common values that have made Britain the country it is. Our belief in tolerance and liberty which shines through British history. Our commitment to fairness, fair play and civic duty.”

Prime Minister - James Gordon Brown (1951- )

On 6 March 2008, I wrote to the Prime Minister for his help / advice. I had no expectation that he would even see my letter let alone provide a response. Many of my previous letters were either ignored or I received a standard letter of acknowledgement.

David Cameron MP, Leader of the Conservative Party, replied, as did Michael Gove MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, and both acknowledged my suffering and torment. Michael Gove said “I very much sympathise with the terrible position you find yourself in. My heart goes out to you.” Sadly both admitted that Parliamentary Rules prevented them from helping.

In this morning’s post, there was my reply from 10 Downing Street ! My letter had been read by Gordon Brown ! This time he had taken action and had requested a response from the Department for Children, Schools and Families about my case.

You never know without trying what you can achieve. Never give in - that next letter or thought might provide new hope and unexpected results might be achieved !

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

No Charges For ‘Slapper’

“Advertisements... contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

“Editor: a person employed on a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff and to see that the chaff is printed.”
Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

Once again I find myself in the newspapers - Chorley Guardian, 02 April 2008. The malicious cruelty of everything that has befallen me is unbearable and once again I feel so miserable.

The same article also had been published by the Lancashire Evening Post on 27 March 2008 - it seems likely that the story had been released to the press on the day of my hearing - probably as a precautionary measure, approved by the LEA.

I had spoken with the LEA last September about press statements. It seemed morally wrong that they should contribute to an article without alerting the individual of its impending publication. They agreed that it was an oversight and that they would review their policies. In future, I was assured that every effort would be made to contact the person to prevent unnecessary distress.

You get used to hearing empty meaningless words that have no sincerity - who cares !

I have pondered over these months as to who was responsible for contacting the local press. I had thought it to be my head teacher but the content was too thin and I am still puzzled. This time it must have been the head teacher - he is a bully and it is in his nature to exhibit such acts of cruelty.

To protect himself, the head teacher then put this notice up in the staffroom :

Internal Disciplinary Issue “It has come to my attention that there is talk about this matter, and not just because of an article in a local paper recently. I would like to inform staff that the process is ongoing and that staff need to respect the confidentiality associated with such a situation.”

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

You’re Fired

I received my notice letter from the LEA this morning. There in black and white :

“The seriousness of your actions, the distress caused to the child and your lack of remorse for your actions mean that the Committee do not feel able to take action short of dismissal. The Committee have determined that your actions constitute gross misconduct and have brought about a fundamental breach of the trust and confidence that the School is entitled to place in you. Therefore, we have resolved that you would be dismissed from school with immediate effect, without notice or payment in lieu of notice.”

Well there is no doubt there ! 30 years of dedicated and committed teaching exploded before me - discarded like last week’s rubbish - without care, understanding nor compassion.

Fair ? ... No ! Impartial ? ... No ! Angry ? ... Yes !

They talk of my lack of remorse ... oh, yes, I forgot it is the ‘British Way’; apologize when there is no fault and look sorry !

My fate had been determined and sealed 6 months ago. It no longer mattered who was lying or what actually happened. It had been a sham all along. The Committee and LEA never bothered to even read my statement. They extracted only those elements that supported my guilt - in their letter they say :

“We also note that your statement at that time made no reference to the possibility that you had slapped the table rather than the child.”

My statement contains :

“The task that she had was relatively easy and in order to regain her attention, I tapped the table in front of her. There were pencils, papers, books, etc. on the table and I probably tapped those resulting in the sound. She was not upset at the time and finished her work.”

They conclude in their letter :

“Having considered all the evidence available, we believe that on the afternoon of 26th September you momentarily lost control of your temper and slapped the child.”

Is there a difference between ‘slapped’ or ‘smacked’ ? The allegation had been that I had smacked the child on the hand. Bearing in mind that this event occurred across a 120cm diameter table surrounded by other children, it is difficult to imagine how it was possible !

I have been in teaching for 30 years. I am a mother too and, like every other parent, I have experienced a whole range of related emotions. Not once have I lost my temper or responded inappropriately in anger. If I had lost my temper with a child then I would not wait to be sacked ... I would have failed as a mother and a teacher and would resign !

“We have considered carefully both accounts of the suspension meeting and whilst we believe that the head teacher did make you aware that the allegations related to the child, we do accept that you should have been informed of your right to be represented at the outset of the meeting.”

In the head teacher’s investigative report, he states that, at the time of my suspension, he had told me the precise nature of the allegation and the name of the child. He also said that he had described the stages of the process and that there would be an initial ‘strategy meeting’ that would comprise the school and social services.

The fact is that he lied about this event. The purpose being to discredit my honesty – he had denied me my right to be accompanied and could now freely add conversation that never took place.

By some considerable good fortune, I remembered that I had spoken with the LEA HR department on 17 October 2007 and that I had a recording of the conversation :

Me:When do I actually find out ... um ... what I am supposed to have done ? And who I’m supposed to have done it with ‘cos I haven’t had .....
LEA HR:Right OK, so if the investigation progresses, dependent on who’s carrying that out, if it’s referred back to the school then you’ll be invited into an investigation meeting and all of the detail of that will be conveyed to you.

The reason for the call had been to inform me that a scheduled ‘strategy meeting’ had been postponed.

Me:What’s a ‘strategy meeting’ ?
LEA HR:The ‘strategy meeting’ is where the ... uh ... social services, the police and ourselves attend the meeting to determine what ... uh ... course of action is due to take place next.

I would not have asked these questions if the head teacher had already communicated this information to me as is claimed.

(This had been the first and only attempt by the LEA to keep me informed about the progress of my case.)

The letter ends :

“The Committee hope that you feel you had a fair hearing and would like to assure you that they thoroughly considered all of the information presented prior to and during the hearing, in coming to their decision.”

Hoping that I felt it to be a fair hearing is not the same as knowing that they gave me a fair hearing ! Assuring me that they thoroughly considered all of the information is not the same as knowing that they thoroughly considered all of the information !

By their own admission in this letter, they omitted to notice such a key element of my case - I said at the hearing that I slapped or tapped the table, as does my statement ... they were not thorough ... but should I have expected anything better ?

The LEA were keen to cover their failings :

“We were concerned by your statement that no one with the exception of the police, had ever asked you to relate in your own words the events of 26th September 2007. We are satisfied that the disciplinary investigation meeting held on 13th December was convened in order to allow you to do so. We note that you took external advice and chose not to use this opportunity, preferring to submit a written statement.”

They might have been satisfied but I was not. My mental state through stress and medication makes it difficult for me to focus my attention. I was scared at the thought of this meeting of 13 December 2007, especially as there would be only my head teacher and his LEA representative present.

The LEA HR already knew from earlier unrelated meetings that I felt intimidated by the head teacher and that it would be especially stressful for me to be in his company.

The purpose of the meeting was not clear from the procedural documentation. I wanted to be able to relate my account without interruption and asked the LEA if that would be the case. They replied :

“The purpose of the meeting is in order for you to be able to respond to the allegation that has been made against you, this is covered in section 3.3 of the disciplinary procedure. Following the meeting it is proposed that a statement is made on your behalf and this then forms the basis of your response.”

It is clear that the purpose of this meeting was for the head teacher to interrogate me from which he would produce my statement. There was no way that I could cope with a grilling by my head teacher and I already had a very detailed statement - why therefore should I want someone to reinterpret my account ?

So on 13 December, I gave my written statement and added that they could contact me if there were any queries that had not been covered.
(The suggestion that I provide my own written statement did not originate from ‘external advice’ but directly from a senior LEA HR manager !)

I never heard from anyone over the next 3 months !

My mistake was that I provided too much information in my statement. I had explained in some detail the reasons why I could not have assaulted the child. This provided the head teacher with a clearly defined target to discredit my account - I should have kept quiet !